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December 11, 2015
Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Peter Peraza, who was given a bravery award for the shooting by his bosses while it was still under investigation, surrendered and was expected to be released on $25,000 bond, prosecutors said. He was suspended without pay and faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.
This case is the first one in over 26 years that a police officer in Broward County has been indicted for a fatal on-duty shooting.
Deputy Peraza told investigators that Mr. McBean ignored commands to drop the weapon and then pointed it at the deputies who approached him, so he fired three times.
This statement directly contradicted the sergeant at the scene, who said that he worried that Mr. McBean was about to point the weapon but not that he had.
Uncertain whether McBean was balancing a real gun or a BB gun on his shoulders, three witnesses called 911 to report the incident. While driving his van down the road, Michael Russell McCarthy called 911 and informed the dispatcher that he was following a man possibly carrying a .22 caliber rifle or a pellet gun.
“He had a white plastic bag around the center of it, but the barrel was sticking out one end and the stock was sticking out the other end,” McCarthy recalled. “It was obvious it was a rifle. To be honest with you, the gun was painted camo but I wasn’t sure if it was a fake gun or a BB gun.”
At the end of his recorded 911 call, McCarthy told the dispatcher, “I will say this: He’s not like acting crazy or aggressive with it, he’s not shaking it or nothing. I’m not going to say he’s waving it, he’s just walking along with it.”
After Deputy Peraza gunned down McBean, Sgt. Richard LaCerra recalled the dying man telling him, “It was just a BB gun.”
Disputing the officers’ account of the shooting, several witnesses assert that McBean never aimed his unloaded air rifle at the deputies. McCarthy told reporters that he saw McBean holding the air rifle across his shoulders behind his neck with his hands over both ends when he began to turn around to face the officers.
“He [McBean] couldn’t have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something,”
McCarthy recalled. “I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn’t called it might not have happened.”
The man who initially placed the call to 911 said Mr. McBean never took the rifle, which was unloaded, off his shoulders.
Another witness told The New York Times that Mr. McBean never pointed the weapon at anyone.
“He was just minding his own business,” Amanda A. Maher, who witnessed the shooting, said in an interview earlier this year.
The New York Times revealed in May that a resident of the apartment complex where the shooting occurred took a photograph of Mr. McBean as he lay dying, which showed he was wearing earbuds.
The witness, a nurse, said she took the picture after the deputies did not allow her to render aid to Mr. McBean.
“I said: “Did the thought cross your mind that he has earphones on? I think possibly he didn’t hear you,” she said earlier this year in an interview, speaking on the condition that her name not be published to protect her privacy.
The officer had sworn under oath that nothing had obstructed Mr. McBean’s hearing at the time. Records show that the earbuds were later found at the hospital in the dead man’s pocket, suggesting someone had tampered with the evidence. Deputy Peraza never saw the earbuds, his lawyer Eric Schwartzreich said.
“This should never happen to any other family,” Mr. McBean’s mother, Jennifer Young, said in a statement. “Jermaine did everything right in his life to try to live the American dream. To be gunned down by a deputy sheriff and to have others cover up and lie is really just too much to bear.”
“I want justice for something that went totally wrong.” She said in an interview. She added that she believed officers had profiled her son because he was black.
Ms. Young filed a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office, accusing the officers of perjury.
The family’s lawyer, David I. Schoen, said he was pleased with the manslaughter charge but disappointed that Deputy Peraza and the others at the scene were not charged with tampering with evidence and perjury.
“The court never goes against the police,” said Rajendra Ramsahai, whose brother-in-law, Deosaran Maharaj, was killed by a Broward County deputy last year. “They are always ruling in the officer’s favor.”
In civil wrongful death cases throughout South Florida, lawyers have discovered that files were missing, that dashboard camera videos had been erased and that police department accounts sometimes did not match the evidence.
The state attorney, Michael J. Satz, who was first elected to the office in 1976, is up for re-election next year. His office had not prosecuted a police officer in any of the 168 fatal police shootings since 1980.
Ron Ishoy, the communications manager of the Broward State Attorney’s Office, said the indictment was unrelated to Mr. Satz’s campaign and noted that it was the grand jury that indicted Deputy Peraza.
After three days of testimony, Deputy Peraza was indicted on a charge of manslaughter with a firearm, which is a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in prison. He was being held with bail set at $25,000.
In 2013, law enforcement agencies around the state asked the Department of Law Enforcement for help in 50 use-of-force and shooting investigations. A year later, the requests had more than doubled, to 103 in 2014.
Department officials asked the Legislature for $1.6 million to hire 14 additional special agents to handle the load.
“In general across the country, I don’t think the communities trust their police enough anymore,” said Charles Drago, a Broward sheriff reserve officer who was deputy chief of staff for law enforcement for former Gov. Charlie Crist. “They demand more transparency.”
Just a few months after they shot and killed computer engineer Jermaine McBean, the two officers who killed him then worked hard to cover it up, Sgt. Richard LaCerra and Deputy Peter Peraza, received a Gold Cross Award for heroism. Doubly sick about this award is that it was given to them in Fort Lauderdale at the African- American Research Library and Cultural Center. Mind you, McBean committed no crime, had no criminal record, and posed no threat to these officers.
What exactly did they do that was heroic?
It sure as hell wasn't providing him first aid, because the nurse who offered it to McBean said she was denied access while he was still alive. She also pointed out to the officers that McBean was wearing headphones when they shot and killed him and went up to her balcony to take a picture to prove it.
Broward County Sheriff's Deputy Peter Peraza
July 9, 2015
Original article posted by DAILY KOS: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/7/8/1400420/-FBI-is-now-investigating-the-Florida-Police-murder-of-Jermaine-McBean
The FBI is launching an investigation into allegations that Florida deputies tampered with evidence and lied under oath after killing a man walking home with an unloaded air rifle. The Justice Department decided to look into the accusations when a photograph appeared revealing that the officer who fired the fatal shots had lied to investigators and possibly tampered with evidence to justify the shooting.
Although the deputy was caught lying under oath, the sheriff blamed the victim for his own death and gave the deputy a bravery award while the shooting was still under investigation.
He has since said that the award was premature.
The disclosure came in a motion by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, which is seeking to put a hold on a federal lawsuit filed by McBean's family, who allege police covered up the circumstances of his death.
"I'm glad the Justice Department is going to take a look at it because the local authorities have had two years to investigate this case," said David Schoen, a lawyer for the family, who requested a civil rights probe.
Local officers have already been exposed for lying about several key details in the case. Those lies are listed below.
A transcript shows that Deputy Peter Peraza, who fired the fatal shots, repeatedly told sheriff's investigators that he did not see anything in McBean's ears.
Nothing, the officer swore under oath, prevented Mr. McBean from hearing the screaming officers.
Taken by a nurse from the balcony above McBean, headphones can be clearly seen. Also seen are police officers to the left and right of McBean.
Also, according to the New York Times:
The deputy who shot him, Peter Peraza, said he had feared for his life, convinced that Mr. McBean was about to start firing. Deputy Peraza was asked at least five times whether there was any reason that Mr. McBean would not have heard the officers’ commands, such as whether there was anything in his ears. Each time, Deputy Peraza said no.
And the homicide detective who led an internal review told McBean's relatives in an email that officers on the scene "confirmed" he was not wearing an earpiece—after the family explained that he always had them on when he was out walking. The detective said the buds were found in his pocket, with his phone, at the hospital.
"I was highly upset," McBean's mother, Jennifer Young, said of the moment she learned about the photo. "I said, “They lied to me. What else have they lied about?”
Not only does the photo clearly show the earbuds in his ears, but the nurse who took the photo claimed that she pointed them out to the officers after they refused to allow her to provide any first aid to McBean.
We know McBean was still alive for a while after being shot because another officer there claimed that he told them the gun was just a BB gun:
Another officer at the scene, Sgt. Richard LaCerra, told investigators that McBean "spun around" and brought the rifle over his shoulders. "I thought at that point and time he was gonna swing and point the rifle at us," he said. "And the next thing I know there was gunshots."
LaCerra said that after McBean fell, the wounded man said to him, "It was just a BB gun."
"I felt like my life was threatened. I had that feeling like if I would not go home that day," said Peraza, who has been on the force for 14 years but spent a decade of that working in the detention center.
"I felt like I could've been killed. My sergeant could've been killed. He could've shot somebody in the pool area.
So as soon as he did turn and point his weapon at us, that's when I fired my duty weapon."
Michael Russell McCarthy, 58, told NBC News that McBean had the Winchester Model 1000 Air Rifle balanced on his shoulders behind his neck, with his hand[s] over both ends, and was turning around to face police when one officer began shooting.
"He [McBean] couldn't have fired that gun from the position he was in. There was no possible way of firing it and at the same time hitting something," McCarthy said. "I kind of blame myself, because if I hadn't called it might not have happened."
Twenty-three months later, police are claiming that the case is still under "active investigation."
This is a preposterous claim. No case like this takes more than four to six weeks to investigate, and that's only for drug and ballistic tests to return.
It would seem that the officers in Broward County followed a well-executed strategy that protects them from any consequences.
Some parts of this article are rewritten and published under the fair use doctrine.
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July 29, 2016
Broward State Attorney's Office spokesman Ron Ishoy said in a statement:
"While we respect the court's decision, we disagree with its conclusion," "We believe, based upon an appellate court decision, that a law enforcement officer is not entitled to a dismissal of the charge based upon the Stand Your Ground Law. While there is conflicting evidence, we feel a jury should resolve those conflicts. We believe that the facts of the case do not support that this was a justifiable shooting. At this moment, our thoughts go out to the family of the late Mr. McBean."
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel also released a statement after the ruling was handed down:
"A life was lost, and this is a tragedy no matter how you look at it," Israel said. "As sheriff, I was elected to enforce laws and keep our citizens safe. I am not a lawyer. I am not a judge and I don't make legal decisions. I pray for God to comfort all those affected and for our community to begin to heal and find peace."
Peraza, testified last month in a hearing on a motion to dismiss under Florida’s stand your ground law, saying that he feared for his life in July 2013 when he shot McBean, 33, who was carrying an unloaded air rifle.
This is not your typical motion to dismiss hearing, (most motion hearings you’re lucky to get 10 minutes in front of the judge). This type of motion required an evidentiary hearing. That means evidence and testimony had to be taken for the judge to make a decision.
Again, this was not a quick 15 minute hearing. This evidentiary hearing went on for 5 days, (June 14, -June20), with the judge actually visiting the place of the shooting.
Deputy Peraza described the events that prompted him to shoot and kill McBean in the Oakland Park apartment complex. Peraza testified that McBean turned and pointed the gun at him and his fellow deputies.
"He's going to kill me," Peraza said he was thinking when he was confronted by McBean. "He's going to kill somebody."
"My focus is now solely on the rifle and his hands," Peraza said. "His hands are kind of draped over the rifle."
Peraza's attorney, Eric Schwartzreich contended that the deputy shot McBean in self-defense.
Broward County Police Benevolent Association president Jeff Marano said in a statement:
"We are very pleased at the decision handed down by Judge Usan this morning," "All we asked was that he follow the rule of law, and he did. We want to thank PBA attorneys Eric Schwartzreich and Anthony Bruno, and their team of investigators, for the aggressive, vigorous defense of Deputy Peraza. We also want to thank our membership for their emotional and monetary support of Deputy Peraza and his family during this very difficult time. We have said from the outset this was a justifiable shooting and the judge's ruling confirms that fact."
"This is a slap in the face to the grand jury and the people of Broward County," the McBean family's attorney, David Schoen, said.
“We are absolutely devastated. This is a complete miscarriage of justice and a travesty. A judge being able to throw out a trial when a grand jury for Broward County specifically decided to indict is a huge injustice," Andrew McBean said.
"The case illustrates corruption in the system. At the end of the day, when we have a case where civilian eyewitness accounts completely undeniably go against the accounts of the officers, this case should have been pushed to trial. We have eyewitnesses that state Jermaine never pointed the toy air rifle at officers. It's not an easy thing to re-live this loss over and over again. This case needs to go to trial.”
We usually try not to give our opinion, and just report the facts as they come in.
However in this case we feel we must.
First let me say to the family of Jermaine McBean we are very sorry for your loss, and we mean no disrespect to you.
Under Florida’s Stand your Ground law, the test is reasonableness, which means what a reasonable person would do in the same situation.
So we ask you to put yourself in the deputy’s shoes.
Remember this all happened within a few minutes.
What would you do when you see a man with a gun walking into a busy apartment complex where kids were playing?
Most of us that are not law enforcement would go the other way, maybe calling the police as the first witness’s did.
We do not believe for 1 minute that the deputy was out to shoot someone. Does anyone really believe that this was race related?
If anything, if race came into play, it was probably the deputy’s first thoughts when finding out the person he was forced to shoot, of all people, was black.
When the judge granted the motion to dismiss, he basically was saying that if any of us would have shot Mr. Mcbean under the same circumstances, we would also have any charges against us dismissed.
I’ve lived in Florida along time and could all but guarantee you that if a civilian had shot him under those circumstances; most law enforcement officers in Broward would NOT have even arrested them.
We believe the deputy’s motive was to protect life.
If any of our visitors are upset by the previous “Opinion”, we would remind you this is not a site to trash the police.
We are NOT ANTI-PLOLICE.
We are NOT ANTI-GOVERNMENT.
But we ARE ANTI-CORRUPTION!
With that being said, there is still a FBI investigation into whether or not the officers tampered with evidence and conspired to cover up facts.
We remain vigil on that and will update when and if the Fed’s file charges, or close their investigation.
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